Goals by Aleksandr Pavlenko and Roman Pavlyuchenko could not prevent FC Spartak Moskva slipping out of the UEFA Cup at the last-32 stage, as they went down 3-2 on aggregate to visitors Olympique de Marseille.
Having suffered a 3-0 first-leg loss in the south of France last week, Spartak needed something special at a freezing Luzhniki Stadium to progress. They came mighty close, Pavlenko volleying home just before half-time and Pavlyuchenko adding to the lead in the 85th minute, but OM hung on to squeeze through.
The Ligue 1 side have been in superb form in 2008 and, with their confidence overflowing, they started in sprightly fashion in the Russian capital. Even the early loss of midfielder Charles Kaboré to injury was not enough to distract them and they created a host of half-chances in the opening stages. Mathieu Valbuena was tormentor-in-chief for Erik Geret's troops and the diminutive midfielder came close to opening the scoring after nine minutes when his deflected shot slammed against the Spartak post with goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa well beaten.
Valbuena also fired over from just outside the area and had an effort saved, while Djibril Cissé drove a shot wide in the 19th minute. Spartak only came to life towards the end of the half, in fact, and after Welliton and Pavlenko had shots saved, the latter put them ahead in the 39th minute. Christian Maidana's cross from the left was bundled into the path of Pavlenko and the midfielder volleyed left-footed into the top corner from inside the box.
Spartak started the second half in dominant mood as they looked to reduce the aggregate deficit further but, despite bossing possession, they hardly troubled OM goalkeeper Steve Mandanda. The visitors nonetheless had to endure a nervy final five minutes when Pavlyuchenko rammed in off the underside of the bar from close range to double Spartak's lead and raise the prospect of a dramatic comeback, yet it was not to be.
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